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Updated AZ Education Progress Meter Data Show P-20 Pandemic Impact

Posted on January 06, 2022 • Category: Progress Meter Updates
By Center for the Future of Arizona

Data Show Impact to the Entire P-20 Continuum as Result of Pandemic

Today Education Forward Arizona and the Center for the Future of Arizona released updates to five of the eight indicators in the Arizona Education Progress Meter, the state’s widely accepted framework for P-20 education. 

The data show that the COVID-19 pandemic has had significant effects on every part of the education continuum, from early education to K-12 and postsecondary education. 

Notably, new data show a decline in access to quality early learning for Arizona 3- and 4-year-olds from 19% last year to 17% this year, contributing to a three-year downward trend from a high of 24%. The decrease is largely a result of the pandemic when many providers closed or limited capacity and the loss of the federal Preschool Development Grant. Early learning opportunities, such as PreK are important because they give children the opportunity to build their cognitive, social, and emotional skills so they are ready to learn in kindergarten and able to read at grade level by the end of third grade. 

Arizona Education Progress Meter Updates

The data also show significant drops in 3rd-grade reading (11 percentage points) and 8th-grade math (14 percentage points), high school graduation rates (1 percentage point) and post-high school enrollment (7 percentage points) because of the pandemic.

Data are available for most of the indicators at the state, county, city, school district and school for multiple groups of students at

New Local and Student Group Data for Post High School Enrollment

Additionally, for the first time the Arizona Education Progress Meter includes more detailed data on post high school enrollment. Through a partnership with the Arizona Board of Regents, additional data were added at the county, city, school district, school, and for specific groups of students, including students with disabilities. 

The Arizona Education Progress Meter has served as a tool for policymakers, business leaders, civic leaders, and educators across the state to discuss where we stand as a state and what it will take to meet the goals in the future. 

“Education consistently tops the chart on issues that matter to Arizonans and our 2020 Gallup Arizona Survey reinforced this priority,” said Dr. Sybil Francis, president & CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona. “We know the pandemic has disrupted teaching and learning, but the latest data are troubling; however, it’s critical we have the information to know where we are and where to focus our efforts. We must address unfinished learning and ensure excellence and equity in our education system, which will continue to be a multi-year effort requiring a long-term commitment to sustainable positive change.” 

“The pandemic has had a marked impact on our entire education community, especially to our most disadvantaged students,” said Rich Nickel, president and CEO of Education Forward Arizona. “It’s up to all of us as business, education, policy and community leaders to come together to create a set of concrete steps to meet the goals in the Education Progress Meter and advocate for the funding to support our students with the greatest needs. Meeting the goals is going to be a challenge, but is possible if we focus on supporting our students and educators throughout the entire P-20 continuum.”

The Arizona Education Progress Meter was co-developed by Education Forward Arizona and the Center for the Future of Arizona in 2016, with the goals set in 2017. The Arizona Education Progress Meter is one of eight Arizona Progress Meters created by the Center for the Future of Arizona.

About Education Forward Arizona

Education Forward Arizona was created to change the way people think about and support education as the key driver to improving the economy and the quality of life in Arizona. The organization’s work includes providing scholarships and innovative programs to students and advocating for policies and funding that move the Achieve60AZ postsecondary attainment goal and other Arizona Education Progress Meter goals forward. 

About the Center for the Future of Arizona

The Center for the Future of Arizona is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that brings Arizonans together to create a stronger and brighter future for our state. We listen to Arizonans to learn what matters most to them, share trusted data about how Arizona is doing in those priority areas, bring critical issues to public attention, and work with communities and leaders to solve public problems. We work across the full spectrum of important issues areas and have deep and ongoing engagement in the areas of education, workforce development, and civic health, recognizing how essential these are to a bright and prosperous future for our state.